Activision is once again under fire over Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered - this time it's new premium DLC that's making fans livid.
Overnight, Activision announced the new Variety Map Pack is coming to Modern Warfare Remastered, first on PlayStation 4 on 21st March and later on PC and Xbox One.
This map pack includes four classic Call of Duty 4 maps, remastered to the same quality as the main game. They are Broadcast, Chinatown, Creek and Killhouse.
Call of Duty 4 fans will remember the Variety Map Pack well. It first released on the Xbox 360 on 4th April 2008, before coming out on PS3 and PC. It was the only DLC for Call of Duty 4. Pretty much all COD4 players ended up getting it.
So, why are fans upset? Well, the new Variety Map Pack costs $14.99 - five dollars more than it did a decade ago.
Activision will point to the inclusion of 10 rare supply drops, which it said represents a $20 bonus value. But that counter is clearly falling on deaf ears within the increasingly bitter Call of Duty community, a community still upset that Activision locked the Modern Warfare Remaster behind the super expensive Legacy Edition of last year's Infinite Warfare.
There are some who say this DLC shouldn't be DLC, anyway. They say that the maps should have been a part of the original remaster because remasters, traditionally, have been like Game of the Year Editions in that they usually include everything originally released. Not so with Modern Warfare Remastered, it seems.
Again, Activision has a counter. Modern Warfare Remastered launched with 10 maps fully re-done, then released another six for free. In short, the company has shown goodwill in the past. Given it's put work into remastering these four new maps - and pretty much everyone agrees the Modern Warfare Remaster is a brilliant revival of the original from developer Raven Software - why shouldn't it charge for them?
Here's why: there's a feeling that Activision could and should do more to reward long-term Call of Duty players who have stuck with the series even as the company appears to rip them off. And there's an argument to say Call of Duty needs positive PR now more than ever, following disappointing sales of Infinite Warfare and general anti-Call of Duty sentiment fuelled by the brilliance of its competitor: Battlefield 1. This year's Call of Duty desperately needs to get players back on-side. Giving away some remastered maps for free in the run up to release would certainly help.
Meanwhile, the reception to the new Variety Map Pack has been overwhelmingly negative. Modern Warfare Remastered is a game many spent £70 to access, a game Activision shoehorned micro-transactions into, and now has premium DLC. It's not a good look.
The teaser video for the DLC has at the time of publication a mammoth 6215 dislikes, compared with 1700 likes. In YouTube land that's disastrous. The comments are even worse.
We've seen publishers enjoy success by releasing maps for free in a bid to avoid splitting the userbase. Ubisoft, for example, has seen the audience for Rainbow Six: Siege swell to over 10 million players by releasing all DLC maps to all players, instead selling early access to Operators. Titanfall 2 retains a small but loyal fanbase that appreciates developer Respawn's effort to keep the audience together, too.
Perhaps now's the time for Call of Duty to follow suit.